Rowley's new 'softer' image unveiled at convention
In the address titled "Putting the nation back on track", Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley described as "melodrama" the actions of the Government, saying that each Minister strove to be the main attraction, "stalling and stumbling on stage: one jostling to be the village idiot from San Juan, the other to be the "energiser bunny action man" and yet many others fighting for the title of "head crook".
Speaking yesterday at the People's National Movement (PNM) annual Convention at the Grand Stand, Queen's Park Savannah, Rowley also stated that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was now best known for her "missteps, mistakes, miscalculations, misrepresentations, misunderstanding of the power of her authority over the Tobago House of Assembly; misinformed, misguided, wallowing in misfortunes, misdirections, mis-appointments, misjudgements, mis-allocations and on most mornings was "missing in action until half past eleven," he said.
Yesterday's event saw a novel approach to introducing the political leader. Rowley and his photogenic wife, Sharon entered American style, holding hands and waving to the audience, as two little girls brought flowers to them.
Before this, there was a video bio-sketch in which various persons, through mainly his wife talked passionately about Rowley, the man she knows.
The video featured an idyllic scene of the village in which he grew up in Tobago, speaking about his grandparents love and painted Rowley as a man rooted in the values of the land, a "gardener and a farmer" and a praying person, who walked miles as a child to attend the Seventh Day Adventist school. No doubt it was an attempt to remove the "raging bull" image which has dogged the PNM leader.
In his speech which followed, however, Rowley in his usual style, pulled no punches against his political opponents.
He said the "infamous Section 34 manipulation" would "stand for all time as the most offensive and dastardly act of betrayal which any Government has even contemplated for execution upon our citizens". "It represents monumental abandonment of all the tenets of civilised behaviour that are expected of parliamentary representatives: uninhibited, disgraceful and distasteful disregard and disrespect for the welfare, image and well being of the citizenry".
Rowley trained his guns specifically on National Security Minister Jack Warner and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.
Rowley said the country's energy crisis which was the lifeblood of the economy was in serious crisis. He said the competitive advantage in natural gas was being eroded and the country's attractiveness as a preferred destination for investment in the gas intensive industries was being reduced. "We may be witnessing the start of investors fleeing or reducing their investment in Trinidad and Tobago."
Rowley made a pointed call to all those who had ever worked with, voted for, or shared the PNM's vision of nationhood, "regardless of who you are or where you have been", to "come home" to the PNM.